LINDA ROBERTSON (far right and inset) was sworn-in by Owosso City Clerk Amy Kirkland, during the Monday, Aug. 20 meeting to fill the interim council seat vacated by Burton Fox. Those in attendance included  city attorney Scott Gould, city manager Nathan Henne, council members Elaine Greenway and Lori Bailey, Owosso Mayor Chris Eveleth, mayor pro tem Sue Osika, council members Rob Teich and Dan Law, and public safety director Kevin Lenkart. 

   Mayor Chris Eveleth had placed an honorary black ribbon over the portrait of James Capitan, between Osika and Teich, signifying Capitan’s passing on Tuesday, Aug. 14. Capitan had been mayor in Owosso from 1983 to 1989.

(Independent Photo/Karen Mead-Elford)


by Karen Mead-Elford, co-editor

Owosso City Council accepted Linda Robertson’s request to fill the interim council seat recently left vacant after Burton Fox resigned, during the regular meeting on Monday, Aug. 20. Four candidates submitted letters of interest earlier in the process and all five were found to possess the necessary qualifications to serve. These five were then requested to present a five-minute statement to council and answer follow-up questions, prior to the council deciding on Robertson. Mayor Chris Eveleth drew the names from a mug to make the presentation order fair. The candidates were (in order) Nicholas Pidek, Michael Cline, Albert Martenis, Linda Robertson and Janae Fear.

It should be noted that Robertson is not running for a council position this November, which was a major deciding factor, according to council members, in choosing her for the vacant seat so as to make the candidacy field fair for those pursuing the election.

Pidek, a lifelong citizen of Owosso, expressed his enthusiasm as part of the younger generation to actually remain in his hometown. Pidek, who is an honor graduate of Kettering University, has invested in the Owosso community, along with his wife, as business owners of Foster Coffee and Aviator Jayne. Pidek has collaborated with several nonprofit organizations, served on the Owosso Historical Commission and remains active on the Main Street Advisory Council for the State of Michigan. Pidek shared, “I hope that the one resounding characteristic someone walks away with after meeting me is that I care deeply for this community and everyone in it.”

Cline emphasized his previous experience with Owosso City Council over a number of years, elaborated on his 55 years as a resident, and expressed his opinion that he did not intend to “be a team player,” instead seeing himself as “an independent.” He dramatically told council “this was going to be one for the record books,” requesting council members not to vote for him. Cline said he was far more interested in letting “the voters decide” in November and was willing to make a strong statement to those in attendance regarding this belief. Cline shared that “being on council is about helping the residents.”

Martenis shared that he was born and raised in Owosso and is a “proud product of the Owosso Public School system.” He said that he moved back to Owosso in 2009 during “tough economic times” and has worked diligently through difficult years to encourage small business growth and “revitalize downtown residential living,” referencing his involvement with the Wesener building on Washington Street. Martenis has been involved with Owosso Main Street and developed the downtown living partnership where he “continuously advocates for those that live in this community.” Martenis went on to state, “I will continue to share my personal story and my professional story to inspire the citizens of this community to give them hope so they will know that they too, can stand before you.”

Robertson approached council by discussing her “50 plus years” as a resident of Owosso where she has been a homeowner for 40 years, a business owner for 10 years in which she is now the accounting supervisor for Greenstone Farm Credit Services of East Lansing, and successfully raised two daughters. Robertson has plenty of previous experience serving on Owosso City Council, having resigned as mayor in 2007 to seek treatment for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. After treatment, Robertson continued with community service and is currently the vice president of the Friends of the Shiawassee River. “I believe my experience on council will allow this current council to proceed seamlessly until the election,” she shared.

Fear conveyed her interest in the council seat by talking about her seven years experience on the Owosso Planning Commission, where she was initially appointed by then-Mayor Ben Frederick and reappointed by current mayor Chris Eveleth. Fear attends numerous council meetings and has educated herself on the Owosso City Charter and remains intrinsically connected to both the city and the community. She moved here with her husband in 2003, “but fell in love with Owosso and so we made it our home.” Fear has three children in the Owosso Public School system. She is currently employed as an independent public relations contractor. She serves on the Memorial Healthcare Patient and Family Advisory Council and the MHC Gala committee. Fear previously was a member of the OPS Community Committee to aid in the school millage proposal (the first successful millage in 40 years) and a former board member/past president of the Osburn Lakes HOA. “I have a thoughtful, transparent, very practical approach to serving and decision making,” Fear shared.

Other items discussed during the Monday meeting included the purchase agreement of two city-owned lots for $2,500 each, on W. South Street. City Manager Nathan Henne urged council to consider selling the properties to the individual desiring to construct duplexes on the locations, opening up the potential for up to four families to find housing in Owosso. The council approved the sale. The properties have been owned by the city since 2000.

The consent agenda included the approval of five people to the new Firemen’s Memorial Committee, not to expire until September 2019. Those individuals are Patrick Bradley, Burton Fox, Daniel Law, Thomas Manke and Mary Reid Long.

Also on the consent agenda was the approval to extend the ambulance contract with Memorial Healthcare for three more years, along with the authorization for a bid award for downtown façade rehabilitations at 114 and 115 N. Washington Street and also 216 through 218 W. Main Street.

The next meeting is planned for Tuesday, Sept. 4 due to Labor Day.

Interim Owosso Council Seat Filled was last modified: August 27th, 2018 by Karen Elford